Cyril de Zoysa

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Sir Cyril de Zoysa
ශ්‍රිමත් සිරිල් ද සොයිසා
President of the Senate of Ceylon
In office
1960 - 1965
Personal details
Born 26 October 1896
Galle, Ceylon
Died 2 January 1978 (aged 81)
Nationality Ceylonese
Alma mater Royal College, Colombo,
Richmond College,
St. Thomas' College, Matara
Profession Lawyer
Religion Buddhism

Sir Cyril de Zoysa (Sinhala:ශ්‍රිමත් සිරිල් ද සොයිසා) (October 26, 1896 – January 2, 1978) was a Sri Lankan industrialist, Senator and a philanthropist. The President of the Senate of Ceylon from 1960 to 1965, he was a leader in the Buddhist revival movement in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 20th century. He was distantly related to Sri Lankan tycoon Sir Ernest de Silva.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was born on October 26, 1896 to Solomon and Harriet de Zoysa in Galle, and was their second son. His brother V.T. De Zoysa also became a famous leader in his own right.[2] He was educated at St. Thomas' College, Matara [3] for his primary studies and then moved on to Richmond College in Galle. His father was a notary public and for this reason de Zoysa moved many times during childhood. He completed his secondary education at Royal College, Colombo. At the young age of twenty, he began pursuing his studies at Ceylon Law College.[4] After graduating from Sri Lanka Law College, he began practicing law in 1921. He started at the police courts of Balapitiya. In 1926 he moved to Kalutara after five successful years of practice in Balapitiya.[5]

Kalutara activism[edit]

The town of Kalutara was a centre of Buddhist learning and a pilgrimage site where people came to view the Kalutara Bodhi.He was the founder of Kalutara Vidyalaya & Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya. In violation of colonial law, he began lighting lamps at the Kalutara Bodhi. The Bodhi tree was one of 32 allegedly brought to Sri Lanka by King Devanampiyatissa,[6] as a scion of the Sri Maha Bodhi of Anuradhapura.[7] When the colonial authorities came, they attempted to corral devotees away from the tree. They accosted De Zoysa, and De Zoysa challenged them to arrest him. He invested much of his own money into the project, and created pilgrimage facilities for worshippers.[4]

Business ventures[edit]

De Zoysa was a successful businessman having a diverse array of ventures. During law school he earned money by tutoring, and used his first earnings to buy a buggy cart. He later reminisced that "I gifted this to my father, who blessed me for this act of love and generosity. I perceived that this gift I gave my father brought him immense joy. Likewise this brought me too unforgettable joy.”[2] He was the founder of the AMW group, one of the largest conglomerates of Ceylon.[8]

Senatorial career[edit]

De Zoysa was the President of the Senate of Ceylon for eight years, prior to that he was the vice-president of the Senate for six years. He was made a Knights Bachelor.[4]


  1. ^ He owned much but gave away even more Sunday Times - May 20, 2007
  2. ^ a b A tireless servant of the Dhamma Colombo Daily News - October 27, 2007
  3. ^ Sir Cyril de Zoysa’s contribution to uplifting Buddha Sasana
  4. ^ a b c Sir Cyril De Zoysa - Buddhist devotee and philanthropist Sunday Observer - October 20, 2002
  5. ^ Sir Cyril de Zoysa - a noble personality Colombo Daily News - January 7, 2003
  6. ^ Sir Cyril - great Buddhist and exemplary philanthropist Rootsweb - October 23, 2003
  7. ^ Gateway to the South Colombo Daily News - January 2, 2006
  8. ^ Al-Futtaim acquires majority stake in leading Sri Lankan public company Manufacturing Business Technology - July 27, 2008

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